Episode 268: Shaping Beyond with Helen Ashton

Succeeding in business or in whatever endeavor you choose, cannot take place without a support system. Surrounding yourself with great people will not only help you achieve your goals, but help you be successful in life. Helen Ashton, the current interim non-executive chair of JD Sports Fashion Plc., had seen it work in her long career.

Helen Ashton’s experience spans 25 years of transforming complex businesses in retail, business services, and financial services. She founded retail consultancy Shape Beyond after spending 25 years transforming businesses within c-suite and executive positions. Helen takes a unique, disruptive approach to business transformation which is vital for organisations looking to stand out in a post-pandemic world. 

Helen’s most recent roles have been Chief Executive Officer of JLA (a Cinven, private equity-backed portfolio company), and Chief Financial Officer of ASOS plc. Earlier in her career, Ashton also held senior roles with Capquest, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, and Asda. 

In this episode, Helen Ashton talks with Adam Stott about how she came out of the norms where she grew up and her career journey. Helen also shared why it’s important to surround yourself with great people as a support system and many more!

Show Highlights:

  • How Helen managed to come out of the norm in her hometown
  • Helen’s Time management secrets and work-life balance
  • What would Helen give more time allocation in her life Given the chance
  • Importance of making a list and scheduling activities
  • How Helen’s chemistry degree affected her thinking in business
  • Managing the cash of your business
  • Working with people that have a good set of skills can get you through challenges
  • Why confidence is important in running a business

Check out Shape Beyond and Helen’s LinkedIn

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Connect with me on Instagram @adamstottcoach


Please note this is a verbatim transcription from the original audio and therefore may include some minor grammatical errors.

Adam Stott:

Hello, everybody and welcome to this very, very special episode of Business Growth Secrets. We are bringing you another tremendous guest. So Helen, who is with me today is not only a mother of five, but she has been the CFO of one of the biggest fashion businesses in the world is currently the non Executive Director of the most well known sports chain in JD sports. She has her own consultancy business where she helps business owners to grow has a management degree in Management accountancy as well as chemistry. I’m led to believe as well.

So it seems that you know, Helen has done a lot and I can’t wait to talk to Helen about how she’s been able to achieve all these different things. Whilst also raising five children and building and growing businesses. So welcome, Helen, I can’t wait to talk to you. It’s gonna be really good. How are you? Things are good?

Helen Ashton:

Yeah. All good. Thank you, Adam. I’m excited. I’m excited. So by the way, with that introduction, you make me sound really old.

Adam Stott:

If you’re not watching the video, and you’re just listening to this audio, Helen’s not really old, right? We weren’t going to obey you. He certainly did not just do a lot. You know, it seems like you’ve fitted a lot in which actually is a really important question. And obviously want to get into a bit of your journey.

But I think it’s really important if you are somebody that’s been able to run major companies, from a finance standpoint, like a sauce, to be on the board of directors of JD sports, to raise five children, and to also run your own business at the same time, you know, what are your time management secrets? So you’ve got any time management secrets, you want to share? Is there anything that you live by that you do specifically to make sure you can fit all this in here?

Helen Ashton:

To be honest, I think I’ve made loads of mistakes on that front along those along the way. I think for many years, I was very, very focused on my career. I grew up in a town up in the Lake District where people don’t tend to leave the town. If you’re female, the general expectation is that you’ll get married quite young, have children and stay in that region. 

So I don’t know, there was something in me from very young that rebelled against that. I always had a view that I was going to break that mould and do something different. As a result of that, for the first 20 years of my career, I was really, really focused on pushing myself with the view that I could achieve anything that I wanted to. Then I think maybe about 10 years ago, as I started to find that I had a few health issues.

I think all of a sudden, at that point, you realize that over that period of time, you tend to neglect your own well being. You’ll tend to you know, not eat properly, I didn’t exercise. All of a sudden, I think it’s interesting that that your body has aware of rebelling. As well and coming back and saying, hey, you know, you need to take some care of me as well. In the same way that family does as well. As you’re bringing up children, and all of a sudden something will happen with them. You’ll kind of thing oh, I should have spotted that. Or they told me that but I wasn’t really present in that conversation. 

And I kind of missed it. I think it’s funny how things tend to happen. It’ll just give you a bit of a prod to say, “You know what, you haven’t got the balance right here, there are other things that you need to take care of.” And I always believe that, you know, you need to keep your Korean family and your own health equally balanced.

If any of those go off track, then life becomes very, very difficult. So I’ve been pretty shocking at it up until now, I would say but you know. I get better as I get older of making sure that I tried to balance all of those things. Often that’s about saying no, and again, I’ve been quite people pleaser in my life. I’ve always found it hard to say no, and I think I’m getting better at being able to say no.

Adam Stott:

So do you allocate time? So those three areas are what you would suggest to somebody because let’s say you’ve been in business now for 25 years. You’ve had a great career, looking back, would you have done some things differently? Would you have allocated more time? So one of the areas, perhaps, if you had your time again, yeah.

Helen Ashton:

Definitely, the thing that I would have allocated more, I would have definitely allocated more time to the children. I would have definitely allocated more time to myself, because I think anybody out there who’s a working parent will know that pretty much on the priority skill, you tend to come last. And, you know, that’s fine until you do run out of energy. Everybody needs to put energy back into the tank. People will say there’s a reason when on a plane. When the masks drop, that you put your own on before you put the children’s on. I think I’ve forgotten about that through my life. 

Absolutely, instead of arriving in the office at seven in the morning, because I wanted to miss the traffic, and started work. There was no reason at all, why I shouldn’t have come to the office early and gone to the gym. Gone for a walk or read a book or done something for myself, or even just had some breakfast. Instead of just walking in and just getting on with the day in the same way that… When I decided to stay in the office and not go to a parents evening, because I worried what people would think and worried that people wouldn’t think I was committed. 

Actually, you know, for me, I think I should have been more demanding and prioritized that a bit more. Now, the reality is that you can’t have everything and I know that people will say to me, how do you manage children and work and you balance all of that, you know, you must be a superwoman. Unfortunately, you can’t have everything. 

You’ve got to be aware that you’re okay with the fact that you’re going to make trade offs, that is life. As a result of that, there are plenty of things with the children that I would have loved to have been at, but I’ve not been there. So I think you have to get comfortable in your own mind with what you’re willing to compromise on. And then when you know what those barriers are, protect them really strongly.

Adam Stott: 

So set those boundaries and stick to them. Really? 

Helen Ashton:

Oh, yeah, definitely. I do think because I’m quite a task focused person, I think shedule in in time to do certain things. So you know, for me something like exercise, I don’t love exercise. I know, it makes me feel better after I’ve done it. But I’m not one of these people who jump out of bed and go. Can’t wait. So for me, plugging that into my routine, and just not thinking about it. We’re just going right, that’s my exercise time. Or if there are things with the kids, making sure that I plan, parents evenings or whatever. Things that are important into the diary, to make sure that you know. I don’t give that time away to somebody else

Adam Stott:

Pretty interesting. I think, having interviewed hundreds and hundreds and probably 1000s successful people. Every single person that is ultra successful, as a smart diary, and allocates time and blocks time for certain exercises. So if you’re listening and you’re not doing that that is something that you absolutely don’t know how many times we have to say, but it’s certainly something I think that all people should be looking to run and allocate and give time to their lives without a doubt.

So now moving back to what you mentioned earlier, you said that you grew up in a small town. Yeah, lots of people around you have the same mentality. Why do you feel that your mentality was different? Because what you said is your mentality was completely different. You felt that actually I can achieve what I want to achieve. So where did that belief come from? Is that something that you created? Is it something installed from you by your parents? Or is it something that you maybe are mentoring and coaching on or supporting or someone you saw doing something? Where do you think that belief was created? Because I think it’s a really important belief that you’ve got that?

Helen Ashton:

I don’t know the answer to that. Really. My childhood was pretty normal, pretty unremarkable. Really, you know, my dad was a self employed architect, so he always worked at home. My mom didn’t work. She looked after me as one of four children. I went to the local comprehensive school. My dad was very traditional in his views, women raise children and they stay at home and the men work and get stressed and the rest of it. He didn’t have any expectations on any of us or his children. I think, as a result of that, I’m quite stubborn like he is, I had it in my mind. 

But I think as a second child as well, I didn’t probably get as much attention as my eldest sister. I think I worked out quite quickly that the thing I could do differently was actually, you know, just do well at school and, you know, prove myself in, you know, maybe a different, slightly different way. I think it’s really interesting now, because lots of people I speak to quite a few people who are supporting women who come through kind of the stem sciences, the science and sort of, you know, science types of, of educational backgrounds. 

They always talk about the fact that females don’t tend to get as much support at school in relation to those subjects. I didn’t see that at all. I was so lucky in the comp that I was in, that it didn’t matter whether you were male or female. They really encouraged you to get involved and do whatever interested you. So for me, math, chemistry, physics, they were all things that never entered my head that were subjects that I wouldn’t be able to do. And certainly if I look back to the teachers that I had, they were amazing. 

And a big reason for me why I ended up and went and did a degree in chemistry. So again, you know, I was I was, I was super lucky. I was less supported by my parents. The expectations were low on me. But I think the expectations from a school perspective and the support that I had there were absolutely superb. I was so you know, so incredibly lucky. I think although people think that you do a science degree, and you think, Well, how does that link into accountancy?

Adam Stott:

How does chemistry impact business? Right? Was it just that you were just, it’d be really interesting to know that?

Helen Ashton:

Well, firstly, somebody said to me, if you’re going to go and do any extra studies, do something you enjoy. I think that has been something that right through my career I tried to keep in the front of my mind is now, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you tend to want to do that great at it. So actually, I was like, right, I’m just gonna go and do a degree that I find interesting. I don’t want to do chemistry longer term. But you know what, I’ll go and do it. Then I’ll enjoy it., and I did. 

What’s interesting now is I come across so many people in business, that have done some kind of Science degree. Say it the way you think about sciences, quite process, it’s quite structured. And there’s probably no surprise then that if you were to look at my diary, or my list of to do, or at night, I’ll think about what is it that you want to achieve? Tomorrow? You know, what is the list? 

And how do I get on and tick that off, all of that is quite process driven. And I think anybody from a science background, you know, that that is drilled into you quite strongly. So I think it’s, it’s probably no surprise, and I do come across quite a lot of people now in business that have kind of engineering backgrounds, or science backgrounds.

Adam Stott:

Very logical and very problem solving.

Helen Ashton:

Yeah, very, very, very logical. But I never wanted to do chemistry. I always wanted to do finance, not because I found it particularly interesting, but understanding numbers, you just use it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the CFO of a source, or you’re sitting in a board meeting. I’m raising invoices for my business, you understand the numbers, understanding the basics of making a profit, cash managing. Those things, I think everybody needs to, you know, everybody needs to know, at least a bit of that. 

And, you know, for me, therefore, then it’s like, okay, you know, that’s a good skill to have, do I enjoy day by day looking at numbers? Not particularly, do I enjoy interacting with other people? I love that. And if numbers are aware, that helped me to bring that into, you know, a team or into business. I guess that’s my super skill that I bring to the table.

Adam Stott:

Absolutely. And low level business numbers is something that’s massively ignored, right, massively ignored, people tend to bury their heads in the sand. They try to not really confront the numbers and hope the numbers are going to be okay. But a higher level of business numbers pretty much become everything, don’t they? Right. It’s like understanding the data, the KPIs and understanding all of the numbers is pretty much everything. 

All the decisions then become based on the numbers right. And I think that for a smaller business owner, what would you say for a small business owner, what were some of the useful things? Is there anything that you really feel as a business owner, they should know about the numbers, obviously not going to become an accountant, they’re not going to know everything. What do you think are some of the basics that small business owners should be aware of, and keeping their eye on?

Helen Ashton:

Interestingly, I think it doesn’t really matter what size the business is, there are some basics that you just don’t want to move away from. And as businesses get larger, they just try to make it more complex. But the reality is that, to stay in business, you’ve got to have cash. So there’s, you know, phrases in business around things like cash are king. And that sounds really obvious.

But it’s amazing how many businesses forget that if you haven’t got any cash, you run out of cash, then your business will not survive. 

So now, that’s no different to managing your own bank account. Iin your own mind, that’s about, you know, thinking about the next three months and thinking about what money you’ve got coming in, and also what money you’ve got going out. So, you know, managing cash in a business is just exactly the same as managing cash within your own bank account. And, you know, you don’t have to be a genius at doing that. There’s loads of kinds of online apps and things like that, that will help you do that basic, basic budgeting. But you don’t want to hope and pray for cash, you know, you want to do something at a high level to manage that. If you’re keeping an eye on your cash. 

If you want to go one step further, it’s then about where you are making some money in your business. And that sounds obvious. But again, it’s amazing how many people when they’re thinking about, you know, charging a price for something that they don’t sit down and think, Okay, well, how much is that actually going to cost me to do that piece of work, and want to make a bit of a profit on top of that. So I’ll add that on. That gives me the price, okay, is that price right or wrong? That sounds obvious, but the amount of people who just hope and pray that at the end of the day, they may make a profit. 

I think there’s a piece to me around understanding the costs that sit behind, and then making sure that actually the margin that you’re getting all the profit that you’re getting on makes it worthwhile for you to do the work. Because often you work really, really hard, don’t you and at the end of the day, you’ve got to hang on a minute, I’ve put all my life and soul into that, but I actually didn’t make any money. And I think that’s where, you know, we’ve got to, we’ve got to be, we’ve got to really learn and constantly check ourselves that at the end of the day, we’re working hard, but we are actually getting something back for doing that.

Adam Stott:

Absolutely. And small business owners often have a massive fear around that, right? They essentially get hooked on the adrenaline, of just bringing more cash into the business, not realizing that actually there’s sometimes they bring in negative cash into the business by selling their own products or services, because they haven’t done those six things. So you know, some really, really good points there. 

So going back to your journey, and you’ve come out of chemistry, you’ve gone out into finance, how did you work your way up to be in the position where you’ve been able to become CFO? Then start sitting on the board of JD sports? What do you think? What was the journey like? And what were some of the challenges? There’s been some challenges for you. Have you ever felt out your depth in these particular roles that you’ve been doing or, you know, tell us a little bit about that.

Helen Ashton:

So I’ve had no career plan at all. I live every day by what opportunity comes along. And then I kind of make a call as to whether I think that’s interesting or not. And as a result of that, some of the roles that I’ve done, I haven’t enjoyed some of them I’ve really enjoyed but all of them have learned something and are quite introverted. So I don’t love new things and new people. But actually, I do recognize that you learn so much by trying new things. So I’ve always pushed myself to a point where I feel bored, or I feel that I’m not learning, then that feels like the time that I would start to think about doing something different. 

Now, that threshold of time is different for different people. But I think it’s really important to be always thinking about learning something new. And stretching yourself and taking yourself outside of the comfort zone. I think that’s really important. Where I felt really out of my depth would be in roles where I’ve ended up being given a role by complete chance. So an example would be if I was a finance person, I was a finance director when I worked at Barclays and the managing director that I was working for left the business quite suddenly. And I just got a phone call the next morning to say right, you’re stepping into his role. It was an international role that had never been done before. 

I think I was 30 or early 30s At the time, and I just remember kind of sitting on this call and going, oh my god, like, I have no idea how to do this. I remember saying to the guy who ran me, you know, what do you need from me? He said, you know, just hit the numbers, it’ll be fine. Then put the phone down on me. And I just remember sitting there thinking, Oh, my God, because I’m like, the boss of people that I used to be. I don’t know stuff, I don’t know. And I think that happens a lot to me all of? 

Well, I’ll be really honest with you. Most days, I go along thinking I have no idea really what the answer is here. I think, for me, I’m pretty confident that with good people that you’re working with, you can come up with a solution. So in my mind, I always know that we can solve a problem. But I don’t sit there and automatically know what the answer is. So there are plenty of times when I’ll sit there going, everybody’s looking at me as if I should know the answer. And I have absolutely no idea at all. And I think sometimes you’ve just got to be quite confident in kind of going, okay, look, let’s not panic about this, we’ll find a way through, you know, and I don’t remember anything that we haven’t been able to find a way through. 

So I think that most people, if they were really honest, I think most people, even if they’re experts, will have a niggle in the back of their mind that goes, Oh, my God, like, is this right? I’m not doing this, right. I don’t quite know what to do. , I think a lot of business is about confidence, or at least appearing confident. Particularly if you’re leading groups of people, you know, they don’t want you to, they don’t want to see you sitting in the corner kind of going, Oh, my God.

I think there’s a real learning point for me, where I think it’s important that, you know, if you are running a business, and you have teams of people, or you’re working with your customers, it’s amazing how people watch you. They watch your body language, and they watch what you wear. They watch for little signs as to what’s going on. And I’ll give you a really good example, when I was working at Barclays. 

They had dressed down Friday, it was ages ago. So everybody dresses there now, but then it was quite a big thing you went in. In casual clothes in a bank on a Friday, it was crazy. It just so happened that Thursday I went abroad, and I got home really late. I took a black suit off, and I took the black suit off, put it literally on the floor, got upstairs the next morning, put the black suit back on, and went into the office without even thinking and walked into the office.

By lunchtime, somebody came up to say to me, you do not don’t use that, because you’ve come in in a black suit on a dress down day that they think you’re going to fire or do a restructure or do something negative within the organization. And I went, wow. Like, I just couldn’t be bothered. I just picked up what I had on the floor. 

And I think that was a real learning point to me that if you’re you know, you are leading a team of people, or the way you interact, it’s not just about what you say it’s about how, how you act. You know, people perceive lots of things that if you don’t look confident, they assume as a problem, or or whatever. 

So I think it took me quite a while to even work out that people do watch you and they watch how you deal with things and they watch whether you’re worried or whether you’re happy or whether you’re grumpy. And reading that and I think so over the years, I’ve become much more mindful about, you know, about how I react to things and, you know, what are the messages that I’m sending out to people?

Adam Stott:

Absolutely. I think that’s even outside of the workplace. You know, going into a business meeting, having an appointment, an appointment, you know, selling a product or service, you know, all of the things you’ll be judged to a degree or you’re being looked at, we’re trying to figure you out. And I think people need to understand that I went to an appointment last night to look at a kitchen with my girlfriends who didn’t get in a new kitchen and the way the guy greeted me. 

And he turned out to be really good, but it was really really, really good. But the way he greeted me I was like, oh my god, we’re inferior. You know who is gonna be absolutely right. And I was completely wrong. But, you know, just on a greeting and the fact that his shirt was completely uncertain. It’s up to you know, people are making those calls, aren’t they? All the time and you’ve got to manage that professionalism. 100%.

Helen Ashton:

I think there’s a trade off isn’t that we all I’m a great believer that people should be that overuse of authentic. Because, you know, everybody wants to deal with a human, don’t they? They want to understand you as an individual. However, yeah, you know, certainly if you’re selling your product, you know, people make a decision about you within, I don’t know, it’s something like three seconds or something. It’s amazingly quick. And if you make a bad impression in those three seconds, it’s quite hard to come back from that. 

Yeah, I think it’s worth thinking about that. I’ll give you an example of something that happened. And it was somebody really senior that I was meeting up with and they came into a meeting, they’d been running around High Park, they came in, they’re running kit with a takeaway coffee in their hand, they still had a cap on when they walked in. And part of me when I love the fact that you’ve just come in straight from your room. 

But the other part of me thinks that actually, you’re not really taking this conversation seriously. And I think as a PC aware, I think we just need to balance Don’t worry, the casual, sort of all post pandemic, we don’t all need to be suited and booted, which is right. And I agree with that. But it’s still about that level of confidence and respect, professionalism. That’s important. And I think people underestimate how much that can impact somebody’s decisions. 

Adam Stott:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So what I also like to ask all the guests, they come on, and I like to actually met before we go to that question, but one really good question I want to ask you as well. But what’s he like working now with JD sports has been an evolving business and evolving brand, you know, there’s been lots of competitors out there in the marketplace, and many of them have disappeared. And now from that sort of brand, and, you know, I’ve noticed that JD sports has really moved not just in sportswear, but into fashion into a degree isn’t it as a major fashion brand. Now, what’s he like being on the board of that company, and you know, what, some of the things that you’ve enjoyed about it and are keen to hear?

Helen Ashton:

Oh, I love it, I love it, I sit on the board. And by sitting on the board, as a non executive, that means that I don’t work within the business full time. So, you know, in effect, I said, I am sort of stepping away from the business, but I can independently come and have a conversation around the board table. I find that really interesting, because you’re not in the day to day, nuts and bolts of running the business, but you can actually think about the business from a more longer term perspective. 

JD, has, you know, International is huge, you know, we’ve got our business in the US, that’s pretty much as big as the UK. As a result of that, the discussions that you have around the table are really interesting in terms of, you know, where the markets are moving, you know, do we want to be in fashion and sports where, you know, what kind of sports? Where do we want to be? You know, you’re constantly looking at the numbers, how is the business performing? What is the cash like? What are we going to do over the next three years? And what resources do we need within the business over that time? What’s the culture in the business like?

 And actually, you know, does that need to shift and move to make sure we’re successful going forward? What do we think about online versus stores, and how people are going to shop in the future? And there’s loads of things that you’re trying to think about, that you don’t really know the answer to. But when you’re thinking about how you navigate the business, these are the things you’ve got to constantly bear in mind. Because whether you’ve got a small business or a huge business, you are only successful if your customers do stay relevant to your customers.

Adam Stott:

Yes, you just say Everything you said was basically based in the future? No, in the past, oh, everything is based on the future.

Helen Ashton:

Because if you think about at the minute how much change there is out there, I mean, everything’s changing, you know, the generational shifts, a massive, you know, when I was at air source, the average age, there was 23. When I was in banking, it was 45. And the whole debates that you have with your teams are completely different: the demands of the people, what they think work looks like, how you engage them, all of those things are really different. And the way that you know, the younger generations by the types of products that they buy, what they’re looking for, all of that is shifting and changing all of the all of the time. So even if your business has been really successful to now, it doesn’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be successful going forward. 

Because if you think about the big businesses of 10 years ago, say from a retail perspective, you’d be thinking about m&s, Debenhams, Topshop, all of those. If you think now, you know where those businesses are, life changes and customer demands change. If you don’t stay relevant to your customers, even if you are currently very successful and have been, there is no sure where you have been successful going forward, unless you can shift and move your business to stay aligned with what your customers want. And I know I’ve fallen into this trap with my own business. You can think to yourself currently about what is it that you think your customers want, but what you think your customers want isn’t necessarily what your customers want.

 And therefore making sure that you are constantly getting feedback from your customers as to what you could do better? What they want more or what they want less of those conversations are really important, it doesn’t matter what size your business is, staying relevant for your customers is kind of alongside managing cash. For me, they are the two things that you want to be, you know, you want to be focusing on.

Adam Stott:

And it’s really interesting, you know, that you said, often, you know, one of the things that we encourage our clients to work on is to really establish who their market is, understand who the market is, and to get that product market fit. But like you say, you know, often it can’t be guessed, you know, because if the market is moving, and you and you stay still, obviously you miss the market. Right? 

So it’s really interesting that you’re saying this and that sort of leads me on to the question that I was gonna ask you this. I mean, in terms of for you, now you’ve worked, you have your own business, your own consulting business, you’ve been director of these businesses, finance, manager, finance, Director, CFO, you’ve done all these different roles, and worked in small business, you have your own small business, but you’ve worked in major corporations. 

For somebody who’s listening today that is a business owner, if you had to give them a business grow secret, it could be one, it could be two could be three, what would that business grow secret be for you that could save someone a lot of time, a lot of pain, a lot of heartache? Or just get them some bigger gains in the future? What would that thing be for you? And you might have said it already, maybe you’ve already revealed it, but you can…

Helen Ashton:

I don’t think I have said it actually doesn’t mean I don’t think any of the things we’ve talked about aren’t important because they actually are and it would be remiss of a finance person not to mention cash and profit. But the reality of a successful business is the people who work within it. And it’s interesting, there are a few businesses I’ve been watching recently. I think what has happened over the last few years is that businesses have been through really challenging times. But when you’re going through a challenging time, you have a real opportunity to either step up and support your team of people around you and the people in your business, or you choose to not support them.

 And I think what we’ve seen coming out of COVID is all of a sudden, we’ve got people who are rethinking how they want to spend their time on what kind of businesses they want to spend their time in. And the businesses that cannot return great people are always going to really struggle because with the best will in the world now. You know, people who are hard working, loyal, committed, those things aren’t a given anymore. And therefore if you’ve got good people working for you, hang on to them for your life. 

Because once that gone, and if you think ah, it’s fine, I’m not going to pay for law or I’m not going to do whatever, I’ll just re recruit afterwards I can tell you now, that is been the downfall for many organizations, because people now they looked on their business owners and they say is this somewhere I want to work. Do you respect me? Do you look after me? And do you, you know, enable me to have some flexibility to fit my life around work. All of those things have become so important. Actually I just find that if you look after people, they will give you that back in absolute spades. 

So I think for me the biggest learning is that the team of people work for you, they aren’t just numbers, they’re not just a resource that you can switch on and switch off, or they can be. But that’s their short term decisions, get people around you who have your back. And when the shit hits the fan, they, you know, they will step up, and they will be there, and they will be there to work with you. And for me, that is the key to success in, you know, successful businesses. It sounds obvious, amazing. It’s amazing. How many people just, you know, don’t recognize.

Adam Stott:

Because I think one of the key things that you said throughout you talking about that topic, is actually the changing marketplace mentality. And it is harder to find those types of people at the moment. You know, you’ve got people to attend a job interview, you know, the registers, not even turn up, you got people that will take an interview and go actually, I don’t want a job. You know, it’s funny, marking the market.

Helen Ashton:

Really, yeah. Or they’ll say, they’ll say, Yeah, I’ll do it. But I want to work from home four days a week, or one day, or, you know, or if you haven’t got a car parked right next to the office, no, I’m not going to do that. You know, what? And you know, what? Good on them, if they, you know, if they have the boundaries, and that’s what they want to do, that’s fine. 

But you will struggle to run your business or grow your business with people with that mentality. You know, and, and, yeah, don’t take for granted the people around you, because they’re hard to come by. And when you have got great people, crikey, you need that around you don’t you as the business owner. It’s hard, it’s hard yards, you need good people around you that are gonna support you. And for me that’s the number one important thing.

Adam Stott:

Well, I absolutely love it. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you today, Helen, it’s been great to, you know, certainly loved hearing the, you know, the logical way that you’ve, you’ve answered everything, where’s the best place for people to be able to get in touch with you. I know that you have your own way of working with people with businesses as well. And obviously, even though we do, we love to share, so it’s good, good for people to get in touch with you and maybe follow you. They can hear a bit more from us or a social media channel, particularly or…

Helen Ashton:

So you can link in with me. So I am on LinkedIn. And if anybody wants to visit our website to find out a bit more about the work we do, then if you go to Shape Beyond, you’ll be able to have a look at the kind of work that we tend to work on. But LinkedIn tends to be the place.

Adam Stott:

Shape Beyond. Yes. And I love the brand name. Absolutely. Brilliant. Well, thanks. You’ve been amazing. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. And, you know, I love the future based mentality and the advice you’ve given us absolutely sounds. So if you’ve been listening to this podcast, don’t forget to go and rate and review.

Obviously, the podcast is completely free. We bring these amazing guests to you. But we want to get the word out to more business owners. And you can do that by going and giving us a five star review or just taking this link and sharing it with a friend so they can come and listen to this sort of advice and guidance as well, so they can get more value. Thanks again, Helen, you’ve been amazing. I really appreciate it. And I look forward to seeing everybody in the next episode of Business Growth Secrets. 

Hi, everybody, Adam here. And I hope you love today’s episode. Hope you thought it was fabulous. And if you did, I’d like to ask you a small favor. Could you jump over and go and give the podcast a review. Of course, I’ll be super grateful if that is a five star review with putting our all into this podcast for you, delivering you the content and giving you the secrets. 

And if you’ve enjoyed it, please go and give us a review and talk about what your favorite episode is perhaps every single month, I select someone from that review list to come to one of my exclusive Academy days and have lunch with me on the day meeting hundreds of my clients so you want that to be you then you’re going to be in with a shout if you go and give us a review on iTunes. Please of course do remember to subscribe so you can get all the up to date episodes. Peace and love and I’ll see you very very soon. Thank you.

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